is a hot topic in
The House and Senate differBy Pat Omandam
over the explosive issue
House and Senate conferees have completed the first round of talks over a bill that addresses the fireworks problem in Hawaii, but acknowledged that whatever they do, they won't please everyone.
Senate Judiciary Co-Chairman Avery Chumbley (D, Kihei) on Friday predicted the public will be disappointed with the results of the conference committee because people are split over a fireworks ban.
House Judiciary Chairman Paul T. Oshiro, whose Ewa Beach district was blanketed with thick smoke from fireworks last Dec. 31, said the diverse viewpoints on fireworks mean lawmakers must find a common ground on Senate Bill 680 SD1, HD2.
"One side wants a ban; the other side favors fireworks as they are now," Oshiro said.
The committee meets again at 2 p.m. tomorrow.
A comparison of House and Senate positions shows that the Senate had proposed a statewide ban on the sale, possession and use of fireworks, except for bona fide religious and cultural purposes, and public displays.
However, the bill would allow Hawaii's four counties to opt out of the ban, and authorize and regulate the sale and use of fireworks.
Also, senators want to make it a Class C felony to import or sell aerial fireworks, a misdemeanor to sell illegal fireworks and a petty misdemeanor to buy, own or use fireworks if not approved by any county regulation. Parents or guardians of minors would be liable for possession or use of fireworks.
The Senate version would permit fireworks between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., but these new laws would take effect on Jan. 2, 2000, two days after the New Year's Eve celebration.
In the House, lawmakers amended SB 680 to allow the counties to issue permits for common fireworks with a minimum of 1,800 single firecrackers. The permits would be issued five days before their use, with a fee not exceeding $5.
The House proposal, however, does not allow the counties to ban fireworks if they decide to do so, mostly out of safety concerns that people will transport fireworks from one county that bans fireworks to another that doesn't.
The House wants to make it a misdemeanor to possess, buy, sell, transfer, set off, ignite or discharge aerial common fireworks without a license.
Current law makes it a crime only to ignite aerial fireworks, something police say is difficult to enforce as they have to witness the act.
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> Hawaii Revised Statutes on Fireworks